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Why every recruiter should do structured interviews!

How exactly should a job interview be structured. In the field of recruiting, there is hardly a more fundamental question. And for good reason! After all, the interview decides how a candidate is evaluated and whether or not he or she is a candidate for the position applied for?

Scientists have agreed for years that in practice people usually go by their gut feeling. This is an essential decision in the candidate’s life. That’s why we’re taking a closer look at the whole thing and gathering all the facts.

Advantages and disadvantages of a structured interview:
According to a 2016 study in the Journal of Applied Psychology, HR managers tend to prefer unstructured interviews over structured ones. As a result, your processes and interviews tend to be a bit more unstructured (van der Zee et al. (2016)).

One article states that “studies with HR managers suggest that they are more likely to believe in the validity of unstructured interviews than other screening methods, even when they know that the evidence suggests that a structured assessment is superior” (to journal article).

But what exactly is the case for structured interviews and what is the case against them?

The recruiter’s job is to assess the candidate as objectively as possible and to incorporate as few subjective feelings as possible. This is where the structured interview probably offers the greatest potential. If a structure is followed, it is easier to evaluate the individual candidates on the basis of the same criteria, which in turn makes it easier to draw an objective comparison.

A 2016 study showed in several experiments that recruiters’ assessments and decisions from unstructured interviews not only do not help in the personnel selection process, but can actually harm them (Kausel, E. E., Culbertson, S. S., & Madrid, H. P. (2016)). This is because unstructured dynamic interviews can cast a likeable but perhaps less qualified candidate in a better light, which can make the process unfair to some perhaps better qualified applicants.

In order to offer all candidates equal opportunities in the application process, Even such aspects as origin, gender or similar should not play a role in job interviews. so that every candidate is given the same chance. Everyone is influenced by biases in certain respects, including the recruiter who conducts the interview with the candidate. This bias is often unconscious but becomes much more important in unstructured interviews.

As early as 1980, the unstructured interview was described in a study as an outdated technique that no longer meets today’s requirements, especially in the area of equality. The structured interview makes it possible to take into account the latest legal and social changes in the job interview (Pursell et al. (1980)). Also in our study on diversity only 15% stated that they use structured interviews for selection (Study on Diversity and Inclusion).

Another aspect that should not be overlooked is that in a structured interview, by following a script, the recruiter is more likely to forget a question or an important point. This also allows for a comprehensive comparison of candidates.

In contrast to all these points that speak for the use of structured interviewing, there is also a point that speaks more for unstructured interviews. It is about the flow of speech. If you stick to a guideline in an interview, a natural flow of conversation is easily interrupted or broken off. This makes it more difficult to say anything about the sympathy between the candidate and the interviewer.
Tip: The better the question script is thought through and memorized, the easier it is to stick to it without interrupting the flow of conversation.

In the end, there are many arguments in favor of using structured interviews. Whether it is fairness, objectivity or reasonableness, all these aspects are promoted by structured interviews.

Procedure of a Structured Interview:
But what does a good structured interview actually look like?
A structured interview can be roughly divided into the phases 1. small talk, 2. getting to know each other, 3. diagnosis, 4. queries and 5. conclusion.

The first part, small talk, is probably fairly self-explanatory. This consists of a few simple casual questions designed to loosen up and warm up the candidate and the situation a bit. A question like “Did you get here okay?” is considered a classic here.
The second part, the getting-to-know-you phase, is about making the transition from small talk to the actual questions. First of all, you can let the candidate tell you something about himself. For example, what motivated him to apply or what motivated him to take the job. This gives you a better understanding of the candidate and his or her motives.
In the third part, the diagnosis, you get down to the nitty-gritty. This is where you ask the candidate the set interview questions that all candidates will be evaluated on.
In the fourth part, the follow-up questions, the candidate is given the opportunity to ask a few questions himself. Here you can quickly see whether a candidate has prepared himself. If he has, then he has usually already prepared a few questions.
In the fifth part, the conclusion, here the interview is slowly brought to an end and you inform the candidate about the next steps and the process of the application. So what comes next and when can he expect feedback.
A structure like this should be followed by a good structured interview.

How can I structure a structured interview in a remote hiring situation?
A time-shifted video interview is a very good way to implement a structure in an interview. This involves showing the candidate pre-recorded questions to which they can then respond with a video. This is then sent to the recruiting department as an application (including resume, etc., if applicable). Carrying some structure in these recorded questions creates a very fair process, as all candidates doing this interview go through the exact same interview (More informations).

A live video interview is another option for remote hirings. Here, nothing is pre-recorded, but (as the name implies) live with the candidate is spoken. If several recruiters take part in the interview, it is advisable to discuss the structure in advance. It is a good idea to use a tool for the interview that is specifically designed for recruiting. These often offer assistance in keeping track of the structure of the interview, for example with the help of a script.

I hope you were able to take away something useful from this blog and further improve your process.
On that note:

Happy Hiring!